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Billie Jack Saebens CD Diamond son SJR Diamond Billy wins the Maturity, while Bonny Freckles T4 by Freckles Ranger won the Futurity.


BELTON, TEXAS, Jan. 4, 2024—National Finals Rodeo heeler Billie Jack Saebens had the weekend of his heading career at the Gold Buckle Futurities, winning $49,000 on two horses and taking both the Gold Buckle Futurity and Maturity titles Dec. 28-30, 2023, at the Bell County Expo Center.

In the Maturity, Saebens won $39,000 on SJR Diamond Billy, the 5-year-old gelding by CD Diamond out of Billies Smooth Cat by Smooth As A Cat. The horse, owned by Southern Ranches and raised by San Juan Ranches, scored a 907.07 on four head and won two go-rounds in route to the title, too.

Saebens and SJR Diamond Billy won both the main average for $9,000 and the lucrative Gold Buckle Futurity Incentive for another $28,000.

“This is the most I’ve ever won heading, period, and for sure at the futurities,” Saebens said. “They had great steers, and they ran it all off smooth. People definitely need to support it, and it will get bigger on its own. If anybody is on the fence about it, it’s a dang good deal.”

Saebens, who had the help of NFR heeler Hunter Koch in both ropings, won the Futurity Heeling on 4-year-old mare Bonny Freckles T4, by Freckles Ranger out of Ima Bonnie Girl N 4 by Twisselena, owned by Bart and Tana Hutton. The win paid $9,000 for a score of 900.2.

“Billie Jack is very talented with a rope,” Gold Buckle Co-Founder Kaleb Driggers said. “He has practiced here quite a bit at my place. He’s always been able to head really good. It just looked like at Belton he was comfortable, he was just going through the motions and letting everything fall into place. That’s what I love about showing the colts: when everything is going well, it is just like there is no clock and you are just out there roping and letting the horse show himself. And that’s what I thought he did. Having great horses from Shane Boston and Bart Hutton doesn’t hurt anything either. But the hard work that he puts into it sure showed off this week. I know how hard he works at it, and I was excited for him to do so well.”

Metallic Hardwood, owned by Driggers and shown by Andy Holcomb, got the win in the Heading Futurity’s Gold Buckle Incentive, worth $28,000. Metallic Hardwood, by Woody Be Tuff out of the Metallic Cat daughter Metallicalexis, won second in the main futurity with a score of 893.58, worth another $7,000. The 2019 gelding already had $56,990 in QData earnings, bringing his first-year total to $91,990 and counting.

The Gold Buckle Futurities’ Winter Event paid $150,300 between just the heading futurity and maturity, with $46,250 of that going to Gold Buckle Stallion owners. The futurity—produced by PRCA World Champions Haven Meged, Shane Hanchey and Driggers as well as WPRA World Champion Shelby Meged, NFBR and NFR qualifier Taylor Hanchey and Western Bloodstock’s Jeremy Barwick—paid $660,100 across the tie-down roping, breakaway roping, heading, heeling and non-pro heading and heeling. The spring Gold Buckle Futurities event presented by Bill Fick Ford is scheduled for May 9–12, 2024, at the Hardy Murphy Coliseum in Ardmore, Oklahoma. In 2023, some 72 stallions supported Gold Buckle Futurities Stallion Incentive, including senior stallions who were named for junior stallions.